The May 1st Wall Street Journal article by Julian E. Barnes entitled “NATO’s Breedlove Calls for Sharper Focus on Russia Ahead of Departure: Gen. Philip Breedlove says U.S. needs more reconnaissance satellites amid Russian threat” could be a call-to-arms if the U.S. government chooses to pay attention.
The article begins:
MONS, Belgium—The U.S. has too few intelligence assets focused on the threat from Russia and should concentrate its technical capabilities on Moscow’s growing military might, NATO’s departing supreme allied commander said.
The U.S. has begun to build up the number of intelligence analysts examining Russia, which stood at 13,000 at the height of the Cold War before dipping to a low point of just 1,000 three years ago, said Gen. Philip Breedlove, the top military commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in an interview.
But Gen. Breedlove said the U.S. needs more technical intelligence assets, the kind of spy satellites the U.S. uses to keep an eye on both troop movements and terrorist training camps, focused on the threat from Russia.
My husband Mitch served during the Cold War as a U.S. Army intelligence officer with the 18th Military Intelligence Battalion from September 1970 to May 1972. During part of that time, as a GS-3 Department of the Army civilian, I worked for a unit of counter-intelligence in the 66th Military Intelligence Group.
In those days, of course, the 18th and the 66th did not have the full array of electronic tracking and computing technology that is available today. But we did have a clear understanding of our mission: to stop the Russians from invading Western Europe. And we had been trained to spot signs of Russian spying as I relate below.
My memoir of that time — TALES OF AN AMERICAN OCCUPYING GERMANY — starts with this true tale from September 1971:
A middle-aged man sitting by himself at the restaurant table next to us said in English, “Excuse me. I see you are Americans.”
“Is this your first time in Copenhagen?”
“Yes,” I said.
“How long are you visiting?”
“A week,” Mitch said.
“Going to visit a beer factory?”
“We plan on taking the Carlsberg tour,” I replied.
The man nodded as if this was to be expected.
Then he said, “I’ve just returned from visiting Russia. The people there are so hard-working. These Danes are frivolous, only thinking about their own pleasure.”
It took only one heartbeat for me to realize that this was a classic espionage pick-up line – a Russian spy trying to cultivate friendship with American military personnel – that both Mitch and I had been warned about with our security clearances.
I looked at Mitch, and our knees touched below the plastic table. We said nothing.
The man continued, “In Russia I saw factories where the production levels have been rising consistently each year.”
At the same moment, without saying a word to each other, Mitch and I stood up, grabbed our trays and dumped them at the dirty dishes collection area.
Clasping hands, we ran downstairs from the second-story restaurant and raced towards Tivoli Gardens two blocks away.
Only when we had entered and run to the lighted fountains in front of The Bazaar did we slow and catch our breath.
“A classic pick-up,” Mitch said.
“Right off the pick-up script,” I said. “But how did he know to try?”
“My short haircut was a giveaway I’m in the army,” Mitch said.
Having been part of the American contingent stationed at the front-lines of the Cold War, I can only hope that Gen. Breedlove’s warning is acted upon in time.
FYI: TALES OF AN AMERICAN OCCUPYING GERMANY can be read for free on Wattpad as I seek a publisher for the memoir. Click here to read it now.
And if you want to read a published thriller — LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS — that features the currently hotly contested South China Sea, click here now. (Free to read via Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription.)
© 2016 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. Phyllis is available by skype for book group discussions and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her Kindle fiction ebooks may be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller — and her Kindle nonfiction ebooks may also be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller